Newer Media, Republican Moments and the Constitution
Elgar Monographs in Constitutional and Administrative Law series
Chapter 1: Introduction: Republican moments, Machiavelli and digital communications
Any serious discussion of freedom of expression and news gathering/dissemination – one that seeks not to have become obsolescent in as short a time frame as ten or 15 years in the future – needs to consider the available evidence about emerging trends in which news content is generated and disseminated. In September 2012, the Pew Research Center – a Washington DC-based, independent public opinion research centre – published data about the consumption of news stories by US citizens. Not only did the research confirm a previously detected decline in print newspaper sales, it also revealed that television news had begun to lose a younger generation of news consumers. This group (comprising adults under the age of 30) is turning increasingly to online/mobile sources of news information. Across all age groups, the percentage of US citizens that acquired their news from a social networking site more than doubled from 9 per cent in 2010 to 19 per cent in 2012. For the under-30s, social networking sites provided the preferred source of news for 33 per cent of this group. By comparison, television news broadcasts were viewed by 34 per cent of under-30s while just 13 per cent obtained their news from a newspaper (in print and digital formats). More recent data from Pew confirms that among ‘millennials’ (persons born between 1981 and 1996) Facebook is the most visited source of political information for 61 per cent of this group of US citizens. CNN is next, having 44 per cent of millennials view the cable news programme for political content.